VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) — After finishing near the bottom of the Missouri Valley in most defensive statistics last season, South Dakota hopes a new coordinator and scheme will help them right their wrongs.
Travis Johansen enters his first year as USD’s Defensive Coordinator after spending the last six seasons at Grand View University. His versatile scheme is what caught Bob Nielson’s eye.
“A scheme that could give us a little more multiplicity, and a scheme that could make us a little more difficult in preparation for teams,” USD Head Coach Bob Nielson said.
Johansen inherits a unit that ranked in the bottom three in the conference in scoring defense, rushing defense and sacks. USD hopes his use of various defensive fronts can help reverse those numbers.
“Creating a little bit more confusion for offensive line, allowing our best pass rushers to be able to utilize their skills, and in this system, we have a mechanism to be able do that,” Nielson said.
“In the past years, I was always in the same spot, pass rushing from the same areas, same moves, people kind of got a feel for what I was doing. And this way I’ll be inside, I’ll be outside. It’s a little bit more of a guessing game of what I’m going to do,” USD All-American Defensive Lineman Darin Greenfield said.
The versatility extends into the linebacking group, which will be expected to provide more of a pass rush this season as they rotate between three and four-man fronts.
“It allows for some creativity schematically, just the different looks you can give in who’s going to be that fourth rusher and what not. Give the offense different looks, and just a part of being a complex defense,” Junior Linebacker Jack Cochrane said.
After installing the new scheme through spring ball and the beginning of fall camp, the Coyote defense is ready to reverse course from a year ago, and shut down opposing offenses.
“Now that we’re all putting it together, it’s really starting to look like a well-oiled unit,” Greenfield said.
The Coyotes open the regular season Saturday, August 31st against Montana. Kickoff is set for 2:00 at the DakotaDome.